The word ‘governance’ has an almost magical ring to it these days: it crops up in every international debate about all sorts of different social issues (the environment, human rights, workers’ rights etc.); it is used by civic society (to talk about differentiated waste collection in a city neighbourhood, for example); it is invoked by politicians, often as a synonym for good governmentality. Does such an inflation of use contribute to clarifying its nature and scope, or does it just make everything more ambiguous? In this article, the author su ggests an axiological-normative model of governance as a starting point for identifying the principal dilemma posed by this device: its legitimation. To overcome this deficit of legitimation, the author offers two respectively alte rnative theoretical hypotheses: on the one hand, governance, in continuity with Foucault’s governmentality, breaks free of state power and seeks its legitimation elsewhere (in the aggregation of interests and in the informal networks where everything is open to negotiation); on the other, legal argumentation, in the rhetorical-persuasive and in the dialogic form, sets out to legitimise these new mechanisms.
Keywords: Governance - Governmentality - Rhetorical-persuasive argumentation - Dialogic argumentation